The swimming stalwart was intent on proving her critics wrong in London.
Powering towards the finish, her fingernails painted a shade of blue as vivid as the water around her, Olympics veteran Leisel Jones knew she had more to prove than ever in what has been a truly extraordinary career.
As an intensely personal debate raged about Leisel’s race weight, the 26-year-old was determined to go out in style at what may well be her final Olympics.
The first Australian swimmer to compete in four Games and one of the greatest breaststrokers in history, Leisel is nothing if not a fighter. And the inspiring athlete made it clear that being subjected to "hurtful" scrutiny over her level of fitness and body shape had only made her all the more motivated.
"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I couldn't ask for anything more," Leisel declared. "I’m one of those people, you put me under pressure, I'll show you what I can do. "I did one of my best sessions every day after I’d heard the comments." Leisel also reveals she had never felt "so loved in my life" after support flowed in from fans after the criticism. And while she has previously admitted to being plagued by depression and feelings of insecurity in her early career, this time she remained focused on doing things her way.
After the race, she declared she was "pretty happy" with a courageous fifth place in her fourth 100m Olympics Breaststroke final. "I know I've made myself proud just by being here, and I’d like to think I’ve earned myself a bit of credibility just by being here so long and doing the job that I have," she said. But it was her spot in the 4 x 100m Medley Relay for which Leisel battled hardest. "That was the biggest one that I wanted out of this trip, and it was the toughest one of them all," she said, "I had to really fight tooth-and-nail for that medley relay spot."
Read more about Leisel plus other Aussie Olympic sports stars including James Magnussen and Alicia Coutts in this week's Woman’s Day on sale Monday August 6, 2012.
Related video: Aussie team prepares.